Alone for the holidaysBy Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

The holiday season can be especially difficult for children of divorce – especially during the first few years. Parents need to be diligent in creating new family traditions and activities designed to replace the memories of holidays past. These tips will help you give your kids a wonderful holiday season this year, despite changes to the family structure.

  • Show Empathy and Compassion

When talking to your children about the holidays, listen, and don’t lecture. Let them vent about their feelings, regrets and frustrations.  Acknowledge what they are expressing to you. Don’t refute or deny what they are saying. Instead, show compassionate understanding. Some kids will hold their feelings in  to protect you. Reassure them it’s okay to talk about their sadness or anxiety about what the holidays will be like this year.

Remind your children that what they are feeling is okay and normal. Be there for them with reassurance and hugs. Let them know some activities will remain the same. Others will change. Help them understand that much of life will go on in the same way, despite divorce.  Stress that change is a natural part of everyone’s life and it’s easier for everyone when we embrace it.

  • Model Responsible Behavior With Your Ex

Children whose divorced parents get along with one another have an easier time adapting to divorce.  So talk to your co-parent about how you can cooperate to give your kids a happy holiday season. Consider both parents spending some family time together with the children, without discord. They will appreciate your efforts.  If you can’t, at least make the drop-off transitions peaceful and harmonious.  Never bad-mouth your ex to the children. Don’t make the kids your messenger or have them spy for you at their other parent’s home. Model your best, most respectful and mature behavior with your ex around your children. It helps them enjoy being a kid, especially during the holidays.

  • Help Create Wonderful New Memories

This year will lay the foundation for many holidays to come. So think about new ways to celebrate, new places to visit, new foods to prepare. By creating a fresh set of traditions your kids have something   special to look forward to. It’s okay to replace old memories with new ones. That way the holidays become days to look forward to again. If that’s also the reality in their other parent’s home, they get an even fuller experience of holiday celebration!

So, acknowledge your kids’ feelings with compassion. Also give them new options for keeping the holiday spirit. Remember the most valuable gift you can give to your children. It’s the love and support they need to overcome the challenges of divorce during the holidays and every day!

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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of numerous books, e-courses and programs on divorcing with children and co-parenting successfully. For instant download of her FREE EBOOK on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies For Getting It Right!

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© Rosalind Sedacca  All rights reserved.